EL PASO, Texas – El Paso Locomotive FC grabbed the winner in second-half stoppage time as it brought San Antonio FC’s undefeated start to an end with a 2-1 victory at Southwest University Park. With the win, El Paso remained two points back of New Mexico United – a winner earlier in the day – at the top of Group C while still holding one game in hand.
Locomotive almost grabbed an early lead in the third minute when Josue Aaron Gomez wove into the right side of the penalty area and fired a shot just wide of the left corner of the net, but the game took a while overall to warm up. San Antonio’s first good look arrived in the 22nd minute as Ignacio Bailone hit a turning shot from 15 yards that was smartly saved by El Paso goalkeeper Logan Ketterer.
SAFC went close again a couple of minutes later as Cristiano Parano fired a long-range shot from the right side that made Ketterer stretch to claim and keep it out of the left side of the net. Locomotive FC’s Dylan Mares also had a good effort from long range in the 25th minute that was turned wide of the left post by SAFC goalkeeper Matt Cardone, while Gomez fired wide of the left post from 20 yards soon after.
The deadlock was broken five minutes before halftime by the hosts, however, after San Antonio’s Callum Montgomery collided heavily with Gomez in the area, resulting in a penalty kick. Gomez stepped up to the spot and put home his finish past the reach of Cardone into the left corner of the net as El Paso went ahead.
San Antonio responded with its own penalty kick just three minutes later, however, as El Paso’s Andrew Fox brought down San Antonio’s Ignacio Bailone as he went for a header in the penalty area. San Antonio’s Luis Solignac got the chance to emulate Gomez’s tally and did so with a cheeky Panenka just to the left of center after Ketterer had dove early toward the right corner.
Locomotive FC threatened twice from corner kicks early in the second half as Bryam Rebellon headed wide in the 57th minute and then Fox had his effort denied by Cardone nine minutes later. New San Antonio arrival Jordan Perruzza almost found the net on his debut but was denied by Ketterer on a narrow-angle shot from the right side soon after, and Perruzza had another chance with eight minutes to go only to pull his effort wide of the left post.
But deep in second half stoppage time El Paso grabbed all three points after it was awarded a free kick on the left. Mares sent in a curling delivery that deflected off SAFC defender Mitchell Taintor and into the left corner of the net to give the hosts victory and keep its hopes of a first-place finish in Group C alive.
USLChampionship.com Man of the Match
Josue Aaron Gomez, El Paso Locomotive FC – Gomez was constantly active in the attacking third, scoring from the penalty spot after drawing the opportunity and finishing with four shots and completing 4 of 6 dribbles.